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VNA of Care New England

Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Thyroid Cancer

Everyone has a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with thyroid cancer. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your healthcare provider:
  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

About Your Risk of Developing Thyroid Cancer
  • Do I have any specific risk factors for thyroid cancer?
  • Is my family history important? Should I have genetic studies?
  • How much of a risk of developing thyroid cancer do I face?
  • Are there any risk factors that I can change?
About Thyroid Cancer
  • What exactly is thyroid cancer?
  • What parts of the body are involved?
  • What makes you think I might have thyroid cancer?
  • Could you explain the tests I need?
  • How accurate are the test results?
  • When do you recommend screening in my children?
  • Does any of the laboratory test help predict my prognosis or chance of relapse?
About Treatment Options
  • What kinds of treatments are appropriate for me?
  • Will I need more than one type of treatment?
  • How long will my treatments last?
  • What are the potential side effects/complications of the treatments?
  • What is the chance that the recommended treatments will cure my thyroid cancer?
  • How will we know whether the treatments have been effective or not?
  • While I’m receiving treatment for thyroid cancer, will I be able to participate in my usual activities?
  • What are some ways to help minimize the complications from surgery, radiation therapy, or hormonal treatment?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • What kinds of lifestyle changes will make my body stronger and healthier so that I can work with the treatments to fight thyroid cancer?
  • What kinds of lifestyle changes might make me more comfortable while I’m going through treatments?
  • Do you have recommendations for any support groups for myself and my family?
About Outlook
  • How extensive is my cancer?
  • Is it confined to the thyroid, or is it elsewhere in my body as well?
  • What kind of prognosis does my kind of thyroid cancer have?
  • How do my other medical conditions affect my prognosis?
  • Once I’ve completed treatments, what will we do to monitor whether the cancer returns?
  • Are there any implications for my family members regarding their risk of thyroid cancer?

References

Baudin E, Schlumberger M. New therapeutic approaches for metastatic thyroid carcinoma. Lancet Oncol. 2007;8:148-156.

Conn’s Current Therapy. 54th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2002: 652-657.

Cooper DS, Doherty GM, Haugen BR, et al. The American Thyroid Association Guidelines Taskforce: management guidelines for patients with thyroid nodules and differentiated thyroid cancer. Thyroid. 2006;16:1-33.

Cornett WR, Sharma AK, Day TA, et al. Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma: an overview. Curr Oncol Rep. 2007;9:152-158.

Rachmiel M, Charron M, Gupta A, et al. Evidence-based review of treatment and follow up of pediatric patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2006;19:1377-1393.

Thyroid carcinoma. In: Cecil Textbook of Medicine , 21st ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company; 2000: 1247-1250.

What is thyroid cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/CRI%5F2%5F3x.asp?dt=43 . Accessed December 10, 2002.

What you need to know about cancer of the thyroid. National Cancer Institute website. Available at http://cancer.gov/ . Accessed December 10, 2002.

Revision Information

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